Software Amps Up Training at Boise Airport

Jodi Richards
Published in: 

A $120,000 investment in computer technology is making training Boise Airport (BOI) more effective and efficient, reports airport training coordinator Gary Smith.

Facts & Figures

Project: Training Software

Location: Boise (ID) Airport

Cost: $120,000 (including maintenance contract)

Software Provider: SSI, Inc.

Benefits: Scheduling flexibility; Boise-specific information & imagery; record-keeping tools

The Idaho airport, which serviced more than 1.5 million enplanements last year, initially considered using software for the Security Identification Display Area (SIDA) badge training, movement and non-movement area driver's training and Part 139 certification training. Soon, however, it looked further to see if there were other training needs the technology could satisfy.

The airport partnered with SSI to write a variety of computer-based training modules. Most of its $120,000 investment paid for the initial production of the materials, but BOI also purchased a maintenance contract for upgrades and software changes.

Each module was developed specifically for BOI, specifies SSI president, Lorenz de Rodriguez. Some topics had never been produced for other airports.

The GA Side

In addition to badging approximately 2,000 employees, BOI issues more than 800 access badges on its general aviation (GA) side. Despite such a substantial GA population, though, the airport previously didn't have a training program tailored to that sector.

"They are a little tougher audience to get a hold of," Smith says. "Now, we're able to give training to the general aviation population in a uniform manner. Everybody who gets a GA badge goes through it. We know what they are being trained on, and we have records of that training."

The airport's GA course covers badge and perimeter security as well as Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (SMGCS) conditions. "We have a few days a year where we go into SMGCS, and this is an effective way to convey that information to the general aviation population," Smith comments.

Another BOI training program covers security breaches and terminal evacuations. The program guides students through: what a breach is, what to do when one occurs, who calls a building evacuation, and where employees and passengers should go during an evacuation.

Tech Benefits

Before BOI introduced computer-based training last August, employees watched a locally produced DVD and completed paper test booklets. Although that format worked, Smith says, the airport wanted a more effective and efficient training method.

One disadvantage to the old system was scheduled testing times. "We couldn't have people walk in at any time and start a test because other people were already testing," Smith explains.

The airport also found it challenging to update the DVD to reflect changes in security directives or construction-related changes to its facilities. With computer-based training, Smith simply directs SSI to make the changes.

He also appreciates that training information is specifically tailored to BOI. Employees see pictures and videos of their airport and review situations they could realistically encounter on the job. For example, BOI has a smoke seal on some of its SIDA doors. Occasionally, the doors get bumped, and an alarm is triggered if they aren't properly secured. "We were able to make students aware of that in the initial training," explains Smith. "They have to be careful and know how to fix it if they unintentionally bump it. Having imagery from BOI is a tremendous benefit."

Training employees about the doors, he adds, has saved a "tremendous amount of time" for the airport's operations team that responds to the alarms.

Training Tools

Airport personnel worked from a preliminary script provided by AviaEd to tailor general training materials to BOI's specifics.

SSI personnel then spent several days at the airport compiling photos and video to illustrate the modules.

"Overall, it was a very cooperative exercise," Smith recalls.

BOI's training room is equipped with ten computer stations and is open between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. "We're not limited to starting a video at a certain time," Smith says. "People can work on different modules at the same time and finish them at different points. That's been a big plus."

Having information presented in small, digestible portions is another primary advantage, he adds.

According to Smith, students are reacting favorably to the new computer-based method. Even those with little computer experience have been able to complete the training. The combination of seeing material on screen, hearing about it and reading about it is especially effective, he notes.

Airport officials are similarly pleased. The software's record-keeping tools show who has or has not completed each testing module. "We've had a very good response from a lot of our concessionaires and other tenants," reports Smith. "They can go at their own pace; the material is given to them in smaller bites than watching the entire video. I think from a learning standpoint, a lot of people respond very well to the multi-media, interactive computer program."


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